A new Restaurant Row? The commercialization of Calhoun Avenue is coming

Matt Algarin
This map shows some of the potential commercial activities that may be headed for Calhoun Avenue.

Dewey Destin was once the lone restaurant operator on Calhoun Avenue, but that's going to change — sooner rather than later.

"I'm not real upset about it," the restaurateur said. "Success can be a dangerous thing."

With plans for at least one restaurant concept already on file at City Hall, and other plans discussed by local developers, Calhoun Avenue may be primed to become the new restaurant row in Destin.

To see a map of the development along Calhoun Avenue, CLICK HERE.

To see an interactive map of development throughout the city, CLICK HERE.

A development order has already been granted on a project called Scallywag's Pub & Grub, which would be located on a 2.13-acre parcel at 105 Calhoun Avenue. The concept is for a Tier I development that would consist of a 9,217-square-foot restaurant and bar, according to the development order. Local developer and president of Destin Machine Inc. Wayne Lung and a business partner are the brains behind the Scallywag's project.

Lung's initial development application also called for a restaurant named Yellowhouse, which was to be a fine dining establishment, boasting 3,817-square feet. The application also included the parcel at 109 Calhoun, which is owned by the Calhoun Land Trust.

While there is no development order on file, owners of the parcel at 101 Calhoun Avenue also told The Log that they were exploring the idea of building a restaurant/bar/music venue on the property, which was once the 1860s-era home of Destin's namesake, Leonard Destin.

The property was purchased by local developer Danny Smith and his partner Christine Clark in April for $2 million, according to records from the Okaloosa County Property Appraisers website. The home was razed last month.

“We’re extraordinarily lucky and delighted to have the opportunity to build something that will employ as many as 100 people and increase the tax base,” Smith told The Log in April. “I’m a business man. This is what progress is all about.”

As of late, commercial activity could be seen along the property, as colorful chairs and a portable trailer were seen over the Memorial Day Weekend. Watersports equipment could also be seen on the property.

"We're not sure what he's doing over there," Destin told The Log recently.

In addition to the restaurants that may soon call Calhoun Avenue home, a development order has been applied for on a project called Whitehead Pontoon Rentals, which would be located at 111 Calhoun Avenue.

This would be a Tier I development and would involve constructing a 20-space parking lot and a 72-square-foot restroom facility for a pontoon rental business. The development application covers a total of 42,480-square-feet.

Community Development Director Ken Gallander told The Log that the initial plan for the project is to offer watersports, but that could expand in the future.

When Destin opened up his restaurant on the bay in 2001, Calhoun Avenue was a relatively quiet area that consisted mostly of residential homes and a few apartment buildings.

"It was zoned single-family back then," he said. "The property owners had petitioned the city to make a change though."

Gallander said the city's future land use map was amended in 2005, while the zoning map was amended in 2006.

Along Calhoun Avenue, which was the city's first named street, there is the Calhoun mixed use zoning district that is bound on the north side by Clement Taylor Park, on the east by Calhoun Avenue, and on the west by Choctawhatchee Bay. This use allows for a mix of residential units, motels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts, just to name a few.

"You are not going to have higher heights, density; it's much less intense," Gallander said. "It would be similar to what you see in Crystal Beach."

Ultimately, Gallander said the changes along Calhoun Avenue would have a greater benefit, as the city would one day like to continue the harbor boardwalk underneath the Marler Bridge and on to Clement Taylor Park.

If the zoning along Calhoun was strictly residential, Gallander told The Log, it could be more challenging to secure the necessary easements that would be needed for construction.

While the continuation of the boardwalk along the bay is many years in the future, it's never too early for the city to start planning ahead.

"Changing the future zoning and land use makes planning for this much more conducive," Gallander said.